Saturday, June 13, 2009

Green Tea Extract

by team

What is it? "Known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, green tea extract is also 20 times more antioxidant powerful than vitamin C and provides superior protection from free radical damage," dermatologist Fredric Brandt tells iParenting.

This defense against free radicals is especially important for sun protection. "Studies have shown that a product containing at least 5 percent green tea extract may help prevent skin cancer when applied before sun exposure along with sunscreen," according to Real Simple.

So what makes green tea so successful at healing the body? Green tea's most active ingredients are known as flavanols, polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG for short). EGCG is so potent, because it contains between 25 to 100 times the antioxidant power of vitamins C and A.

It's the EGCG that might play a role in sun protection. According to Tsung O. Cheng, Professor of Medicine at George Washington University, EGCG might shield against carcinogenesis caused by exposure to UVB rays; thereby, preventing UV radiation-induced DNA damage.

As a whole, more research is needed to provide a better, clearer picture of green tea's role in skincare and its benefits.

You'll find it in: Anti-aging formulas, such as serums and lotions, are the most common products that take advantage of green tea's antioxidant benefits. You'll also find green tea extract in body lotions, toners, facial masks and shower gels.

When choosing an anti-aging product that contains green tea, be wary of miracle formulas. Because green tea polyphenols are oxidized, exposure to air can cause their effectiveness to decrease. For this reason, the effectiveness of commercial green tea products varies significantly from one product to the next.

What to expect: Green tea may be valuable as an acne treatment. Research conducted by Jennifer Gan-Wong, M.D., suggests that green tea extract cream is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide cream, minus the irritating side effects.

Benzoyl peroxide acts as both a drying and a peeling agent: it allows the outer layers of skin to renew themselves and clear pores, reducing much of the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. But for those with sensitive skin, benzoyl peroxide can cause skin irritations like redness, burning and swelling. Green tea doesn't appear to have these side effects.

Green tea might also help to heal rosacea. In one study, women who used a topical green tea treatment experienced a 70 percent improvement in their skin. You can always talk to your dermatologist about possibly adding a green tea formula to your treatment.

Since studies have shown green tea might offer increased sun protection, how can you add it to your daily routine? Smart SkinCare suggests applying green tea before your sunscreen, explaining, "It is best to combine green tea with zinc oxide-based sunscreens because zinc oxide is chemically inert and should not react with green tea (which some chemical sunscreens might do, especially in sunlight)."

If you already have a sunburn, try an at-home green tea concoction to soothe the skin: Brew a pot of green tea, using the leaves if possible. Then strain the brew, chill the tea and soak the tea into a soft cloth to create a green tea compress.

Who should avoid it: Green tea products can suit just about every skin type from oily to dry and anything in between. If you notice any sensitivity to store-bought products containing green tea, try brewing your own at-home topical treatment. Smart SkinCare suggests freezing freshly brewed green tea and using the cubes as a toner. Be careful to let the cubes thaw slightly before applying them to your skin.


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